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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Horse health > Care of the new born foal

Care of the new born foal

Christie Ward, DVM, University of Minnesota

After waiting for almost a year, your mare is finally ready to give birth! Healthy foals are very active, stand and nurse within 2 hours, and pass urine and orange-brown manure (meconium) within 6 hours.

When the umbilical cord breaks, dip the navel stump in dilute Nolvasan® to prevent infection, and repeat every 8 hours for 48 hours.

The mare's first milk (colostrum) is very important for the foal, as it contains antibodies needed to ward off infection. If the mare leaks her colostrum, or if the foal fails to nurse well in the first 12 hours, it will be at high risk for life-threatening infections. Since newborn foals can develop serious illness very quickly, you should contact your veterinarian immediately if your foal fails to stand and nurse vigorously soon after birth, or if you notice danger signals such as depression, reduced nursing, diarrhea, dehydration, or persistent straining to urinate or defecate.

Even if the birth goes smoothly and your foal appears normal and healthy, a health check and blood test for antibody levels in the first 24 hours are strongly recommended.

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